The WA State Government has implemented its state-wide plastic bag ban as of 1 January, dishing out fines of up to $5,000 for retailers.
The ban also incorporates biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags, as long as there are handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.
Acting WA Environment Minister Simone McGurk said the ban is making significant environmental improvements, with reusable bags leading the change.
“Since July 1, 2018, we have stopped around 225 million lightweight plastic bags ending up in landfill–or worse still–in our oceans,” Minister McGurk said.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is partnering with the National Retail Association to assist in educating both the public and retailers on how the ban will work.
Small businesses were given six months to prepare for the change, however that grace period ended with the new year.
“Be prepared–always have your reusable bangs on hand… whether you’re picking up milk from the deli, bread from the bakery or takeaway food from your favourite restaurant,” Minister McGurk said.
Penalties extend to plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers who will face similar fines to retailers if found to be misleading clients about their products.
The National Retail Association will follow-up on all complaints submitted to their website; where retailers and the public are encouraged to report those supplying lightweight plastic bags.
The Western Australian Government will begin enforcing its lightweight plastic bag ban will from January 1, 2019, with fines of up to $5000 for retailers that continue to supply plastic bags.
Plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers that provide misleading information when selling bags to retailers also risk prosecution and fines.
The ban includes any bag made of plastic with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the state’s plastic bag ban has been well supported by the community.
“From January 1, 2019 it will be an offence for retailers to supply lightweight plastic bags – this includes small retail shops, takeaway food outlets and markets,” Mr Dawson said.
“Consumers can help by remembering to take their own reusable bags when they go shopping.
“Taking lightweight plastic bags out of the litter stream is a significant step towards protecting our environment.”
Environmental services provider Veolia has released several case study videos to showcase examples of environmental and economic sustainability.
The videos aim to challenge perceptions around sustainability and feature some of the company’s significant projects and industry partnerships.
The case studies include Veolia’s projects in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote communities across Australia and New Zealand.
Clients and projects shown in the videos include the University of the Sunshine Coast, NSW Health Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), Seqwater, Hunter Water and Auckland Council.
Veolia Executive General Manager – Refractories and Energy Grant Winn said the University of the Sunshine Coast and the NSW Health ISLHD projects demonstrated Veolia’s capability to consider a client’s long-term needs and deliver strategies that targeted operational efficiency and continuous improvement.
“Our role as a partner is to identify, implement and monitor a client’s energy performance to deliver tangible, long-term benefits, while also taking into consideration macro-environmental concerns that could impact their operations,” Mr Winn said.
Veolia Group General Manager, New Zealand Alex Lagny said Veolia’s partnership with Auckland Council is developing waste management in a region that had only recently transitioned from bags to bins.
“We are working closely with the council to drive improvements and a better understanding of practices through data and insights. It’s an exciting space for us, as Veolia looks to expand its waste management capability in the country.”
To watch the videos, click here.
The Victorian Government has launched a campaign to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags ahead of the state’s 2019 ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags.
The Better Bag Habits campaign urges Victorians to remember their bag, wallet, keys and phone when leaving the house. The campaign will run on social media and radio.
Some tips the campaign will encourage will be to store reusable bags in the car, at home, work to ensure customers are always ready to shop. It also encourages the use of foldable bags that can easily fit into a pocket, handbag or backpack.
Research commissioned by Sustainability Victoria found around three quarters of Victorians already carry reusable bags when food shopping.
Younger Victorians and those on higher incomes have been the slowest to say no to single-use bags, particularly when shopping for non-food items.
The ban on single-use plastic bags will come apply to shopping bags less than 35 microns tick after community consultation found a 96 per cent of the 8000 submissions were for the ban.
The state government is also working with other states and territories to phase out thick plastic bags to further reduce plastic pollution.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victorians are already saying no to plastic bags, but this campaign will encourage it to become a habit.
“We’re stopping plastic pollution and ensuring Victorians are ready to live without single-use, lightweight plastic bags.”
The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has called on large Australian brands to commit to using recycled content in their packaging as Coles and Woolworths phase out single-use plastic bags.
ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the move to stop supplying plastic bags in supermarkets is a good step, but a bigger move for the environment and economy is ensuring recycled content material is used for packaging.
“Giving consumers a chance to buy recycled content products has more benefits than bag bans, and survey work shows more than 80 per cent of Aussies support such a move. Ministers can do more to encourage recycled content in packaging at their next discussion about the China crisis,” Mr Shmigel said.
“Putting recycled content into Australian packaging creates domestic demand for collected material and that drives investment and jobs in remanufacturing into new products, and lower risk for Councils’ kerbside recycling collections.”
“At present, Coles appears to have a voluntary target of 5 per cent of products sold having recycled content. It’s unclear what Woolworths’ target is.”
Mr Shmigel said it would be great if both companies announced what their targets are for recycled content going into the future.
“Without recycled content and other measures to make recycling sustainable, we are ‘pushing’ material out and not ‘pulling’ it through. It just shifts more costs to local governments for recycling services. If we can’t get progress through voluntary measures, the community is right to expect regulation to get it done, as is the case in Europe,” Mr Shmigel said.
“Coca-Cola is showing what can be done. Mount Franklin water bottles are all made with recycled content plastic, and they are looking at switching 50% of all their bottles to recycled content,” he said.